Ban Ki-Moon and Ali Khamenei - AP - 29.8.2012
Ban Ki-Moon, left, meeting with Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. Photo by AP

Without naming Iran, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon denounced his hosts in Tehran on Thursday for threatening to destroy Israel and for denying the Holocaust.

"I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust," Ban said in his speech to a Non-Aligned Movement summit in the Iranian capital.

"Claiming that Israel does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms is not only wrong but undermines the very principle we all have pledged to uphold," he added. 

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and this month described Israel as a "cancerous tumour". In 2005 he caused uproar by being quoted as saying that Israel should be "wiped off the map".
Persian language scholars say a more correct translation of his comment would read: "Israel must vanish from the page of time." 

Ban was attending the NAM summit despite calls from the United States and Israel that he should boycott the event.

The UN chief's comments came after Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei launched a venomous attack against Israel in a speech inaugurating the conference, denouncing what he said was Israel's brutal suppression of Palestinian rights. 

"Even now after 65 years the same kind of crimes marks the treatment of Palestinians remaining in the occupied territories by the ferocious Zionist wolves," Khamenei was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying, adding that Israel commits "new crimes one after the other and create new crises for the region." 

The Supreme Leader added that the "Zionist regime, which has carried out assassinations and caused conflicts and crimes for decades by waging disastrous wars, killing people, occupying Arab territories and organizing state terror in the region and in the world, labels the Palestinian people as 'terrorists,' the people who have stood up to fight for their rights."